Blaming Canada has been a staple of comedy for some time now. Whether it’s a song and dance number from South Park or a John Candy movie, comics have enjoyed taking a few good natured pokes at our neighbors to the North. But normally that’s where it stops. Canada holds a unique place in American foreign relations, sharing a massive, cooperatively monitored border, as well as being right up at the top of the list of our largest trading partners. So it’s rather curious when you see Washington – and to some degree, Europe – giving the Canadians the back of their hands.
Rachel Mardsen has a fantastic op-ed in the Baltimore Sun this week, wondering why – at least when it comes to finding a market for their abundent oil resources – the Great White North is suddenly persona non grata.
It’s been a rough month for Canada. America’s biggest trading partner and overall non-jerk country just wants to sell some oil to its friends. Canada is sitting on a black-gold mine, but its oil sales are unable to keep pace with production — a problem that will only increase as the nation further taps the Alberta oil sands and Arctic territory.
Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, understands that energy means influence and independence. It would be tough to argue that Canada is on some kind of power trip, and it’s not difficult to understand why the country is interested in establishing oil trade deals that would help its closest ideological allies retain their energy independence.
Decisions by Europe and America in the past month have pushed away Canada and its oil overtures under the guise of environmentalism — which is turning out to be the new protectionism. And for what? So America and Europe can explore more “green-friendly” petroleum deals with unstable Middle Eastern and African regimes? It’s not as if curtailing purchasing can stop production. China has expressed an interest in having it shipped in — so Europe and America are effectively shifting any environmental impact to another part of the globe with even fewer controls.
As she points out, Canada exports a lot more than just oil. They are also a huge supplier of timber and mineral wealth, highly sought after around the world. Once they warm up relations with an increasingly wealthy and economically influential nation like China, the doors are open. We’ll be competing with China for a lot more than the local fossil fuels which the current administration is turning their nose up at.
Perhaps it’s just because my niece suggested a Lord of the Rings marathon for the Thanksgiving break, but I keep getting this quote from Elrond stuck in my head reading this. “Our list of allies grows thin, Gandalf.” Canada is just about one of our best friends on the planet, and a good thing too, considering both their proximity and resources. Shoving them into the eager and willing arms of China would be beyond folly… it would be criminal.